No. 18 Sooners Hold Off Jayhawks, 34-19
LAWRENCE, Kan. – James Sims rushed for a game-high 129 yards and Jimmay Mundine caught a touchdown pass in his fourth consecutive game, but the Kansas football team couldn’t muster enough offense to knock off No. 18 Oklahoma, 34-19, Saturday evening at Memorial Stadium.
Kansas (2-4, 0-3 Big 12) posted 201 yards of total offense – 185 on the ground – while the Sooners (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) tallied 415 yards of offense – 235 rushing and 180 in the air. The Jayhawk defense forced two turnovers, a fumble and an interception, while each team blocked a punt.
Sims topped the century mark for the second consecutive season against OU on 23 attempts, while Mundine’s touchdown grab was his only reception of the game. It was the 13th-career, 100-yard rushing effort by Sims, moving him into a tie for second place for most 100-yard rushing games in a career. Heaps hit Mundine for the Jayhawks’ first touchdown in the first quarter to extend the tight end’s four games, the longest since Kerry Meier scored in four straight in 2009.
Dexter Linton led all defenders with nine tackles, while Victor Simmons, Isaiah Johnson and Jake Love each recorded eight tackles of their own. JaCorey Shepherd had his hands involved in both Sooner turnovers, recording his second interception in two games and recovered a fumble with 1:54 left in the first quarter.
After the opening kickoff, Kansas held Oklahoma to just one first down and 18 yards of offense, extending the opponent scoreless streak on the opening drive to six games, then went to work on offense.
Kansas drove 70 yards on the ensuing drive, thanks to 53 yards on the ground by Sims on eight plays to set up the one-yard touchdown pass from Heaps to Mundine. With the Wyman extra point tacked on, KU led Oklahoma for the first time since 2001.
The Sooners then took the ball and drove 61 yards on four plays with a little help from a KU personal foul. However, KU nose tackle Keon Stowers scored a timely turnover and forced a fumble on the KU 40 that was picked up by Shepherd.
KU’s offense went to work again as Heaps handed the ball to Darrian Miller, who burst through the line for a career-long 38 yards on the following play. The Jayhawks continued the rushing attack as Miller added four more yards to the drive, before Sims punched it in from 11 yards out to put Kansas on top 13-0.
The one-loss Sooners weren’t going to go quietly. Oklahoma chalked up their first points of the game late in the second quarter after a 55-yard drive and a 16-yard touchdown pass from Blake Bell to Jaz Reynolds. Michael Hunnicutt missed the extra point, as KU led 13-6.
Oklahoma scored the next 12 points to close the half, 18 unanswered since the Jayhawk touchdown at 14:45 in the second. The first two came after a blocked punt by Sooner Matt Dimon forced Pardula to kick the ball out of the endzone for the safety. On the following offensive play for OU, Lacolton Bester completed a 49-yard pass off a trick play to Sterling Shepard and put the Sooners on top 15-13, with just under five minutes to play in the half.
The Jayhawks failed to move the ball on the ensuing drive and were forced to punt, giving Oklahoma the ball back on KU’s own 47-yard line. The Kansas defense held OU to just a field goal, thanks to the tight coverage played by Kansas’ defensive backs. Hunnicutt’s 37-yard field goal increased the Sooner lead to five, 18-13, to end the half.
Kansas posted 173 yards of total offense, 155 on the ground, in the first half. The Sooners rushed for 68 yards, while throwing for 136 for a total of 204. Simmons led all defenders with six tackles, five unassisted, while Sims led all rushers with 107 yards in the first half.
The Jayhawks received the ball to open the second half, and were held to a three-and-out by the Oklahoma defense – a unit that seemed to make a major adjustment while holding KU to just 28 yards in the game’s last 30 minutes. The Sooners drove 58 yards on six plays following the Pardula punt, capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Bell to Shepherd, his second of the game, 25-13 OU.
Oklahoma held KU to another three-and-out, regaining possession at its own 36-yard line. A strong defensive stand by the Jayhawk defense forced a Bell interception to Shepherd, his second in two games. He has now been involved with four turnover efforts by KU in the last two games.
Pressure by the Kansas defense forced the Sooners to a fourth and 24 punt situation from their own 18-yard line. Josh Ford blocked the OU punt off the edge, his second of the season and third of his career, and returned it to the six-yard line, setting up the Sims six-yard touchdown run to pull within six of Oklahoma, 25-19. Matthew Wyman’s extra point attempt was blocked by Jordan Wade and returned 97 yards by Aaron Colvin for the defensive PAT, putting the Sooners ahead eight, 27-19.
Following the Wyman kickoff for a touchback, Oklahoma drove 75 yards to tack on another seven points, this time by Damien Williams, who rushed it in six yards for the Sooner touchdown. The Hunnicutt PAT increased the OU lead to 15 with 4:19 left in the second half, 34-19. That score would stand to be the final outcome of the contest, as the Sooners ran the clock out after another Kansas three and out.
KU continues its two-game homestand Saturday, Oct. 26, against Big 12 foe Baylor. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. and will be available to watch on ESPNU. Those wanting to listen live can tune their radios to the Jayhawk Radio Network or listen via the KU Digital Passport online.
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Oklahoma leads the series that began in 1903, 71-27-6. OU has won nine-straight games over Kansas and improved to 33-14-3 in Lawrence.
KANSAS CAPTAINS: Jake Heaps(QB), Ben Heeney (LB), James Sims (RB), Keon Stowers (DE).
DEBUTS AT KU: Montell Cozart (QB).
FIRST TIME STARTERS AT KU: Courtney Arnick (NB).
TEAM NOTES*Kansas won the toss and deferred to the second half, while Oklahoma received the ball in the north end zone to start. *KU’s defense forced Oklahoma to punt on the first drive and hasn’t allowed an opponent to score on the opening drive through six games in 2013. The Jayhawks have also limited opponents to just four first downs on opening drives.*Kansas held the Oklahoma scoreless until the 7:05 mark of the second quarter, which the longest the Jayhawks have held an opposing team scoreless this season. Earlier this year, KU held Texas Tech scoreless until the 11:20 mark of the second quarter.*Kansas totaled 16 passing yard against OU, which marked the fewest passing yards by KU since the Jayhawks were limited to 15 against Nebraska in 2010.
OFFENSIVE NOTES*Junior QB Jake Heaps connected with junior TE Jimmay Mundine for a 1-yard touchdown pass with 8:23 remaining in the first quarter to give Kansas a 7-0 lead. The score marked the first time that KU has scored first in a contest against the Sooners since 2001 and also represented KU’s first lead over an Oklahoma team since 2001. *Mundine has caught a touchdown pass in each of the last four games, which is the longest streak for a Jayhawk since Kerry Meier’s four-game streak in 2009. *Senior RB Sims had 85 rushing yards in the first 15 minutes, which was third highest for a Jayhawk in an entire game this season. He finished the contest with 129 rushing yards, the highest single-game total by a Jayhawk this year. Sims 129-yard rushing effort against the Sooners is his 13th career 100-yard rushing game, which moved him into a tie with June Henley and Laverne Smith for second-most career 100-yard rushing games in KU history behind Tony Sands’ (17).*Since 2000, KU has had three 100-yard rushers against Oklahoma, two of which have been Sims. Sims became just the fourth running back to run for 100+ against OU this season. *Sims scored two touchdowns against the Sooners, the second time this year he has recorded two rushing touchdowns in a game. He has five rushing touchdowns in 2013 and 31 in his career, also second on the Kansas career charts. *Sophomore RB Darrian Miller had a career-high run of 38 yards. His longest rush prior was a 26-yard run against Texas Tech this year. He ended the night with 67 yards and averaged a team-best 7.4 yards per carry.*Junior WR Justin McCay, who transfered to Kansas from OU, had a 10-yard catch from Heaps in the first quarter, which was his first grab since the home opener against South Dakota.
DEFENSIVE NOTES *Junior DT Keon Stowers forced a fumble in the first quarter, his second of the year. On that play, junior CB JaCorey Shepherd recovered the ball on KU’s 32-yard line – his first career recovery after recording his first-career forced fumble against Texas Tech a week ago. *Shepherd recorded an interception in the third quarter, the second of the season and of his career. Paired with his fumble recovery in the first quarter, Shepherd was involved in two OU turnovers and has helped influence four total turnovers in the last two games.*Sophomore S Isaiah Johnson assisted in bringing down the quarterback for the first time in his career on Saturday afternoon and finished the game with half a sack. *Senior S Dexter Linton recorded a team- and career-best nine tackles. His previous single-game, career-high was eight tackles at Northern Illinois in 2012.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES*Senior WR Josh Ford blocked a punt and returned it to the one-yard line in the fourth quarter. The block was the third of his short career and second this season.
Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis
On if this was the best running game this year:
“It’s the best we’ve had in a while and running against a good defense too. Going in we had to try to control the ball, I thought James (Sims) and Darrian (Miller) both ran the ball very well.”
On the new coaching structure with Coach Weis as offensive coordinator:”It went pretty smoothly for a half. I think that in the second half, once again, when you keep a fairly conservative list, you’re dialed up, you got to produce on those same plays. It got to be the third quarter of the game- I was concerned it was going to start to get away from us. When we got it back to a one-score game I thought we had a legitimate chance.”
On using both Jake Heaps and Montell Cozart at quarterback:”Well we didn’t get anything going in the passing game, so I’ll have to wait until I see the tape. That’s the biggest thing that Jake does here, besides run the team, which he always does a great job; so he can handle all that, but the passing game was inefficient. Montell came in the first drive of the first half, and we had a big chunk (of yards gained) on the first play, there was a holding penalty, so that kind of throws everything off. We get the ball the second time and the first drive out of the box he had a nine-yard gain. So what I think he did was get his feet wet, which, if all else, gives us a chance to move forward.”
On special teams:”I was a little disturbed with a lot of the things about special teams for the day. I’m going to (talk to) the coaches that run punt block, and say we need a game change of play. We felt we had a really good block in there, we went after it and it got pretty clean.”
James Sims, Sr., HB
On the physical play of the offensive line:
“We established it all week, just being physical up front at the line of scrimmage and they went out there and did that today.”
On Oklahoma stuffing the box to stop the run:
“They were getting a push. What really caught us was them bringing the corner blitzes off the edge, because we were just going straight down hill and he was the unblocked guy. Other than that the holes were still there, they loaded the box up from the beginning, but we still creased them with that play. It was a big play for us, it helped us out a lot.”
On his performance:
“It felt good. Give credit to the offensive line, they were physical up front. They won the battle at the line of scrimmage. That was our plan the whole week, just win the line of scrimmage and they went out there and they did that.”
Darrian Miller, RSo., HB
On the game:
“Honestly, I think we battled it out today, there’s a lot of good things to take from it. There were also a couple mistakes that were costly, as well. They might not have seemed costly at the moment, but you can tell that they played into the game. The next step is just come into the weekend, and the practices ahead and the next opponent. That’s the only way we can keep on advancing. Not looking ahead and focusing on things that we need to assess at the moment and just keep working with that.”
On KU running the ball well:
“We watched them on film and we knew there were a couple spots we could hit them and it kind of worked out. In practice we focused on being physical and hitting our aim points and just running hard. That was what we tried to do today and we had a little bit of success. We have to keep on working with it.”
Jimmay Mundine, Jr., TE
On the team’s progress:
“Every week coming into the game we believe we are going to win and there’s not a single doubt in anyone on the team’s mind that we’re going to win the game. Obviously we’ve seen that we can do it, it’s just a matter of being more consistent with it and doing it for 60 minutes. You’ve got to credit their defense, they made some plays against us, they stalled some drives. We have to continue to be consistent in what we do. Not that we started to mess up, just that our tempo, our juice went down, little things like that and that’s something we need to figure out how to bring it together and hold it for 60 minutes.”
On the special teams play:
“You expect it to be a routine punt, but just like we got one [block], they make up plans to attack our scheme and we make up plans to attack their scheme. They got a good one on us and we got a good one on them and I’m not saying we were tyring to balance it out, but I mean special teams are so consistent that you can say that ‘if we do this, and they do this, we should have a good chance to block the kick.’ That’s all you can do is put yourself in position to block the kick.”
Keon Stowers, JR., DL
On how the team played overall:
“We played a pretty solid first half on both sides of the ball. We had a lot of costly penalties on defense; we just need to eliminate those and put ourselves in a better position at the end of the game.”
On the defensive bonding:
“I feel, as a defensive team, we’ve become so much closer this season because we have each other’s backs out there. I’m not saying we don’t have the offense’s back, because we do, but as a defense we’ve developed that brotherhood. We understand we’re not the most talented team so we have to get everything perfect.”
On his teammates stepping up without LB Ben Heeney:
“Our guys stepped up big today; guys like Jake Love showed when someone goes down another guy needs to pick him up. We knew Ben wasn’t going to play and we’d be in a pretty tough situation defensively. We could have used Ben out there, but the guys who came in for him really held their own.”
On Kansas running the ball more than average today:
“We ran quite a bit, but you can’t be one dimensional. It’s easy to load the box and stop the run; you’ve got to have the pass and run get working. Our offense just needs to continue to gain confidence. I feel they feed off our energy in practice and in the games. We have their backs for sure and we’ll continue to pick them up when they need it.”
JaCorey Shepherd, JR., CB
On the consistent play by the defense:
“The first half we did a great job on both sides of the ball. Everyone was executing and on the same page.”
On how the team can change to play consistently the entire game:
“We just need to work on coming out in the third quarter. We need to keep the momentum we build after halftime, keep making plays in the third quarter and really turn it on in the fourth quarter.”
On Coach Weis challenging the effort of the team:
“I definitely see the effort from us but it just comes down to executing. Everyone needs to just do what they have to do and focus on their job.”
On how the Big 12 Conference, being such a hard league, makes things harder:
“It is a tough conference, but we know our team has so much talent, especially on our defense.”
On going up against Oklahoma QB Blake Bell:
“He’s the type of quarterback that, when he takes off with the ball, you have to come meet him and try and get him down.”
On containing Blake Bell:
“I thought we did fairly well, but we can always do better. For me, as a corner, you have to have a little bit more eye control. You have to know if he’s going to take off or if he’s looking downfield.”
On playing corner the last two weeks:
“I think it’s starting to come around for me, but like I said earlier, there are always things to do better. It comes down to eye control; it took the spring and summertime for me to get comfortable in this position.”
On if he felt like KU was still in the game in the second half:
“Most definitely, I felt like we were still in it. There were two momentum plays that changed the way the game went, but I definitely felt like we were still in it late in the game.”
Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops
“Compliments to Kansas for playing a good, hard-fought game. I thought coming into the game, I knew all along, I thought their defense was playing quite well and aggressive and they did again today.”
On the Kansas offense:
“Offensively they did a nice job in the first half creating some adjustment problems for us in the run game. There was stuff we did see and anticipated coming into the game, but we just didn’t handle it very well, recognizing it and getting where we needed to be and at times backers were over pursuing some of the inside plays.”
On the adjustments Oklahoma made at halftime:
“At halftime we got the adjustments ironed out and where we needed to be and played really well during all of the same plays during the second half.”
On the win:
“It was a good win, I was proud of the guys for hanging in there during some adverse situations. (They) played a really strong second and third quarter to regain the lead and get some momentum. It is always good to win on the road.”
Geneo Grissom, JR., DEOn the defensive adjustments made in the second half:”The coaches did a great job of keying in on what the offense was doing and getting us in the right position. They basically told the defensive line to bulk up and stop allowing penetration.”
On if today’s victory validated his decision to de-commit from KU and attend OU:”Absolutely. Kansas is a great school, but I felt Oklahoma was the best decision from me.”
On if KU’s lack of passing game allowed them to focus on the run:”Definitely. We knew that the defensive backs were doing a good job. We just knew we needed to keep getting pressure on the quarterback and once we did that, they became more one-dimensional.”
Lacoltan Bester, SR., WROn his touchdown pass today:”It wasn’t my best throw ever, but it was one of the best and to throw it (Sterling) Shepard to score a touchdown was a great feeling.”
On the key to getting Blake Bell going in the second half:”I believe it was all 11 guys working as a unit, the offense moving as one. If he sees all of us with confidence, he feels the same way so he knows we are behind him.”
Blake Bell, JR., QBOn Lacoltan Bester’s touchdown pass:”It was big time. We definitely started out slow and I just kept telling the guys to keep coming, do what we do, and things will work out for us. You always love when stuff like that happens.”
On getting Shepard and Saunders more involved in the offense:”I have been throwing a little extra with them all week, trying to get more on the same page. I thought we did a better job today connecting on some deeper balls. There is still a lot of plays out there to be made, but we are moving in the right direction.”